You know what nobody does over email? Send a message saying “hi” and then wait for you to respond before saying what they need to say. I feel like even if your best friend or boss did that over email, I’d just delete it.

But it’s such a common thing over messaging apps like Slack, that there are half-parody websites about the problem.

Just ask the question.

Indeed, please do.

It’s funny how the culture of communication is so different across different types of communication. Part of me thinks it’s age. Like compared to email, Slack is a baby, so the culture there needs time to evolve. But I’m not sure that’s really it.

What I think it is, is that the “hi” messages are shorthand for a much more elaborate message:

Hi. I’m pinging you to see if you respond in a somewhat realtime fashion. I have something to ask you, but it doesn’t matter or isn’t useful if we can’t do a bit of back-and-forth in realtime. If you respond fairly quickly, then I’ll respond with my question so we can kick off this little session how I envision it.

Perhaps chat clients like Slack need a new cultural way to ask for that. Here’s an idea: the 🏹 bow and arrow emoji. Like if I shoot an arrow at your attention, I’m asking to see if you’ve got a sec to do a realtime chat session. And maybe they expire after like 10 minutes?

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